Monday a video called “What About Holy Hip-Hop?” was posted online at Ncfic.org, the website for the National Center for Family Integrated Churches. I know little about this group and do not want to insinuate that the families and churches involved with it believe as these panelists do on this subject. That the question was raised at one of their conferences, however, indicates it is on the minds of the attendees. The moderator even states they have received the question in various forms. From the introduction:
One of the questions we received was: “Any thoughts on reformed rap artists? … Their musical styles would be considered offensive to some, but the doctrine within the songs is sound.”
I’m not a particular fan of the hip-hop or rap styles, though I did watch with interest when a slew of bearded gospel men got their bells rung by Propaganda’s “Precious Puritans” a while back. While not a fan of rap and hip-hop, neither am I an opponent. I do know there is a difference between rap and hip-hop. This puts me a step or three ahead of the six panelists.
It is also not important, for the purpose of evaluating this video, to distinguish between “reformed rap artists” and the broader “Christian rap artists.”
I encourage you to watch the video below. It is only 13+ minutes long. You will be hard pressed to find a better example of preference masquerading as biblical teaching. Because I recognize none of these panelists by face or name, I will merely refer to them as speakers 1-6 in my remarks.
After 90 comments and dozens of commenters at the original post there was not a single person supportive of the views presented in the video. Numerous commenters expressed dismay at the lack of cultural awareness and biblical exegesis displayed. These men seem to have committed the sins of the Pharisees by erecting their own laws by which they sit in judgment of others.
They judge the hearts of other believers, make assertions that things not called sins in the Bible are sins nonetheless, make observations about rap or hip-hop then contradict themselves before finishing their complaint. This is just awful stuff.1st panelist: “I would be very against reformed rap, and let me tell you why: Words aren’t enough. God cares about how we deliver the message.” Then, a few seconds later, “We’re given the words because we are a words based religion, the emphasis needs to be on the words.”
Well, which is it?? Are the words important or are they not? You cannot say the words are not enough and the emphasis needs to be on the words. James’s warnings against double-mindedness wave a flag here.
This panelist then proceeds to criticize rap based on his perception that rappers try to draw attention to themselves, and demonstrate how their skill is better than anyone else’s skill. Huh? The subject is not 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg or LL Cool J. We aren’t talking about a bunch of half-naked women jiggling in a video while a guy goes on about “bi—-hes” and “hos.” The question given to the panel is geared toward Christians who perform rap or hip-hop. This is a clear evidence of Panelist 1 judging the motives and hearts of not one or two, but ALL followers of Jesus who perform rap or hip-hop. Would any more evidence be needed to see his sin is at least as great as the so-called sins he is condemning?
2nd panelist: “Music is a medium of communication. God cares not just what we say, but how we say it…If we truly believe in the sufficiency and authority of scripture, scripture will not only govern what we say, but it will also govern how we say it. The question I always want to ask it—‘cause remember the scripture is given to us in literary art forms: narrative, poetry these sorts of things, parables, and those should govern our art forms as well.”
Poetry? Did he really say poetry? Did he say God cares how we say it, then say that the scripture should govern our art forms, then list poetry as an art form in the scripture? Has this guy ever heard hip-hop?? Does he not realize it is poetry, therefore governed by the sufficiency and authority of scripture? He contradicts himself in the space of a few sentences.
The problem seems clear: he does not like the musical styling of rap and hip-hop, then tries the “sufficiency of scripture” approach to sanctify his personal preference. It will not work.
I also find his argument about what it means to “redeem” the arts to be weak. He says when something is to be redeemed it is to be “changed.” (The accurate word picture is to ransom, to rescue or to buy as in a market.) But, having already said the words of reformed rap are doctrinally dense, and having said poetry (thus the lyrics) is a governed art form, the only thing to “change” is the musical style. In other words, the only way to save the words is to jettison the style that birthed them. I guess Lacrae needs to grab a Stetson and join Darius Rucker on the country circuit.
This panelist’s closing statement, “as is expressed in the very word of God itself,” is problematic for him as the very word of God itself does not support what he said.
The 3rd panelist comes across as the most arrogant and judgmental of the six. First, he refers to rap as a “so-called art form.” Bias much there, dude? Both rap and hip-hop are established art forms. He follows with the most arrogant, prideful, Pharisaical and biblically unfounded comment of the entire panel discussion: “It’s a picture of weakness and surrender on the part of people who think they are serving God and they’re not. They’re serving their own flesh, they are disobedient to the word, they are disobedient cowards.” Later he implies reformed rappers are “enemies of God.”
This, it should be noted, was said from a comfy dais where he was flanked by likeminded men in front of a friendly audience. Not exactly taking it to the enemy.
His statement so baldly anti-biblical I would have walked out had I been in the audience. He is unqualified to make such a judgment as he is not the Holy Spirit. Nothing else he says is even worth the time to discuss.
Panelist #4 sounds much less aggressive, and at one point admits none of the panelists are familiar with “this culture.” He even sounds fatherly as he details how he would confront a new believer who listened to this kind of rap. Listen carefully as he explains, “I disciple them and I would break the sin slowly.”
Break the sin slowly. What sin? Greed? Idolatry? Fornication? No. Listening to Trip Lee or Toby Mac.
This is about as close as one can get to attributing the work of God to Satan, and it is very dangerous territory indeed. (Some commentators hold that blaspheming the Holy Spirit is attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan.)
Edit: Jesse Weimer noted a different possible interpretation, “I don’t think he said to break the sin slowly, but break this in slowly, referring to the change he believes should come through discipleship.”
Panelist #5 admits to having had Toby Mac on his iPod at one time (one of the panelists asked “Who’s Toby Mac?”). This panelist is probably counting his blessings that he made it out of the conference alive. His criticism of multiple-Grammy winner is not about his music; it is because he is still doing rap at 50. Toby Mac has wrinkles and a backwards hat. It’s “unseemly,” according to this panelist (a failed attempt to indict Mac using 1 Cor. 13:5).
He furthers his screed that older men in the church are supposed to be giving a lift to the younger men in the church. This is fine, well and good. I would certainly agree. But, what in the name of holy hip-hop does this have to do with Toby Mac rapping at 50 years old?
Is not being a consistent witness in the public eye for nearly 30 years a way to lift young men? Is not being gainfully employed, a hard and steady worker at the age of 50 a way to lift and encourage young men?
Is not having influence over other artists who are trying to use their talents for the glory of God a way to encourage young men?
Panelist #5 is so locked into his interpretation of scripture, his specific theological grid, that he can no longer see the truth in its simplicity. The simple commands to disciple and be consistent fathers in the faith is poo-pooed because of wrinkles and a backward hat. I would argue that his inability to see beyond wrinkles and a backward hat reveals the panelist’s own lack of spiritual maturity.
With panelist #6 we return to the same judgmentalism as the first four. He says, “Some forms of music cannot be separated from the culture from which they come.” What culture? Black culture? Urban culture? There is a startling racist subtext at work here.
What about other cultural forms he does not understand or with which he cannot identify? The fact is that many cultural forms adopted by Christians have over time become separated from the previous form. That is why we celebrate Christ’s resurrection at Easter instead of the goddess Ishtar, and the birth of Christ at Christmas instead of a pagan festival.
Number 6 says, “I believe rap is the death rattle in the throat of a dying culture.” Other people have said it about rock and other modern music forms. I would say it about Nickleback, KISS, Bon Iver and University of Notre Dame sports. As there is not scriptural foundation for my statement, there is no foundation in the scripture for his. It is preference pure and simple no matter how much vigor attends it.
He also resurrects the old “the rhythm or beat might remind people of something in their past” argument. The same argument could be made for virtually any experience of life including sex, a particular food, drink, joke, flavor of ice cream, shoe style or whatever. It is interesting this argument is not used in scripture. It is entirely man-made.
In short, this panelist gives one opinion after another as if his opinions had authority in and of themselves. The entire panel does so. Having a preference is fine, but not when used as the basis for criticizing brothers and sisters in Christ. One needs a biblical standard for such critique.
The scripture instructs us to judge, but to use “righteous judgment.” This means our judgment (evaluations, discernments, measures) should be according to what the text says, not what we wish it said. This video also speaks to the danger of trying to work everything into a system of belief when said system has become unmoored from the Bible. When our system, interpretive framework, or theological grid is elevated above the inspired text, we, as these men, will have fallen into error.
Read More »
She is not called “the Mighty Mississippi” for nothing.Read More »
Just when you thought progress was being made on this kind of evil an Alabama judge falls off the bench and hits his head.
A man accused of raping a teenage acquaintance was convicted by a Limestone County jury this afternoon, according to District Attorney Brian Jones.
After deliberating for just under two hours, the jury returned with guilty verdicts for one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape against 25-year-old Austin Smith Clem, Jones said. Clem will be sentenced Nov. 13 in Limestone County Circuit Court.
An Alabama man convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl will serve no jail time, despite being guilty of a felony that mandates at least a ten-year sentence.
Austin Smith Clem, 25, was convicted of raping Courtney Andrews, who is now 20, twice when she was 14 and once when she was 18. AL.com reports that he also sexually abused her when she was 13. A jury convicted him on one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape. First-degree rape, a class A felony, carries a ten- to 99-year sentence, according to the Alabama code, while a second-degree rape carries a two- to ten-year sentence.
Clem was sentenced to 20 years on the first-degree rape charge and ten on each second-degree charge, but he won’t serve time in prison unless he violates the terms of his sentencing.
In other words, the jury did its job but the judge has no spine. That would be Circuit Judge James Woodroof who sentenced Clem to community corrections and probation, letting him avoid state prison time.
“It would seem to be relatively mild,” Totten tells Mother Jones. “But [Clem's] lifestyle for the next six years is going to be very controlled…If he goes to a party and they’re serving beer, he can’t say, ‘Can I have one?’ If he wanted to go across the Tennessee line, which as the crow flies is eight or nine miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can’t do that…It’s not a slap on the wrist.”
But a slap on the wrist is exactly what it is.
He cannot go to a party. Boo hoo.
He cannot drive to Tennessee. Boo hoo.
He has to live a controlled life. Boo hoo.
WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD, RAPIST!!
Totten told Mother Jones that he was childhood friends with the judge, but didn’t feel that affected the ruling.
Of course not. Not a chance.
Thankfully The DA in the case is attempting to have the sentence overturned. We can all pray toward that end.
/rantRead More »
Never ending are the arguments over original intent regarding the founding documents of the United States. Living document or static? Fixed or evolving?
I grew up in a tradition where the Founding Fathers were regularly invoked in support of one kind of political position or another, often related to prayer in schools or another moral cause. Quotes along that line are well known. Among them are John Adams’s “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” Another is George Washington’s “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to a political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim that tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.” (Both quotes are found here.)
Such quotes are used to support a particular narrative of American history. Often unstated is the historical record of other statements in letters, speeches and addresses much less supportive of that narrative. These lesser known quotes from the founders are equally important if we want a more thorough understanding of how they viewed God and government, church and state.
“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
~George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792
“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes.”
~Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814
“Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788
“Knowledge and liberty are so prevalent in this country, that I do not believe that the United States would ever be disposed to establish one religious sect, and lay all others under legal disabilities. But as we know not what may take place hereafter, and any such test would be exceedingly injurious to the rights of free citizens, I cannot think it altogether superfluous to have added a clause, which secures us from the possibility of such oppression.”
~Oliver Wolcott, Connecticut Ratifying Convention, 9 January 1788
“I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799
“When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
~Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780
“I never liked the Hierarchy of the Church — an equality in the teacher of Religion, and a dependence on the people, are republican sentiments — but if the Clergy combine, they will have their influence on Government”
~Rufus King, Rufus King: American Federalist
“No religious doctrine shall be established by law.”
~Elbridge Gerry, Annals of Congress 1:729-731
“God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”
~Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773
“And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion and Governmentt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”
~James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822
Pretty sure the drill instructor did not see this coming. Not from a million miles away. I have often said the power of a father in the life of a child is atomic.
Case in point.Read More »
Have you ever caught yourself looking right through something only to be startled by something else in your surroundings? This happens to me often when sitting in traffic or looking out a window into the yard. Ultimately a car horn or my wife’s voice brings me back to reality. Then I realize I was not really looking at anything. I was looking through it.
The Bible says numerous times in the Gospels that Jesus looked at the crowds or a person and had compassion. Jesus could not have had compassion on people if He had been looking through them; He was looking at them.
The most well-known story of compassion Jesus told is the story of the good Samaritan. In Luke 10 we are told a traveler was beaten and robbed while on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Two of his own people—Jewish folks—passed by without lending aid. These two were religious leaders!
Sometime after the assault, another traveler stopped to give him aid. The helper is identified as a Samaritan, a man of mixed heritage whom the Jews despised. He anointed and bound the hurt man’s wounds, took him to a place to stay, and made arrangements to cover his expenses. From this Samaritan we learn the costs of compassion. Usually the investment involves time, energy, and often finances.
This is Christ’s example of one person having compassion on another. Compassion is preceded by seeing people as God sees. We cannot live our lives looking through the people for whom Christ died. We must look at them with the eyes of Christ, determined to demonstrate His compassion whatever the time, energy, or financial cost.
Your can order The Gospel Project for adults, students or children on LifeWay.com. Here’s where you can read my early review of The Gospel Project curriculum.Read More »
My amazing and spectacular wife presented me with an equally amazing and spectacular gift for my birthday. We call it the Book of Stories. It is the most humbling gift I have ever received.
I will explain it in full later. Consider that a teaser…
One result of my Book of Stories is it spurred the desire to write a new book. The good thing is that I know the subject. The bad thing is so do a lot of other people. There are many, many related books on the market. There is a strong probability that I might just add to the noise rather than having an impact.
I want to write a simple, short book on influence. Specifically I want to write about the influence men can have on those around them from spouse to kids to friends to fellow Christ-followers.
There are many books on manhood; maybe you have read a few. Point Man, Tender Warrior, Disciplines of a Godly Man, Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart, Wild at Heart, and dozens more. It is not an unexplored area. Entire movements have been built around the idea of maximizing manhood or keeping promises.
There is nothing wrong with any of these and I have been blessed by several.
Again, perhaps my entire idea is just, to use an old football adage, “piling on.” Perhaps enough has been written.
Or, perhaps a different angle might help.
Ten chapters. Ten areas of importance. Encouragement not rebuke. A book any man would read, not just pastors or theologians. Depth without being a quagmire. Direction without the sense of failure some men feel after reading men’s books.
This is where I need your help. Man, lady or teen, in the comments name an area or two where men need the most encouragement to recognize and exercise their influence. I will use these, perhaps combine some and add to what I am already thinking or drop some of my thoughts altogether in favor of these suggestions.
Please comment here rather than Facebook; a Disqus account is not needed (although it only takes two minutes to create one). Commenting here will help me easily find your suggestions.Read More »
How do you capture the attention of the traveler who has seen it all? Make sure people pay attention to the pre-flight safety warnings?
I’m not sure if every Virgin America flight will feature this 5:00 video in place of “Please return your seats to the upright and locked positions,” but they could.
Virgin “enlisted the help of Virgin Produced, Director Jon M. Chu, Choreographers Jamal Sims and Christopher Scott, Composer/Producer Jean-yves “Jeeve” Ducornet, Virgin America teammates, and dance stars like Todrick Hall and Madd Chadd to give our safety video a new song and dance — literally. From the exit doors to the oxygen masks, no seat belt was left unbuckled.”
My favorite parts were the gal trying to buckle her seatbelt and Little Man. Yours?Read More »
In less than two weeks Ministry Grid from LifeWay Christian Resources will launch. Billed as “Training Made Simple” Ministry Grid is a customizable platform designed to help churches develop all their leaders, no matter the leader’s area of service. Ministry Grid makes training leaders simple. Content is available to leaders anytime, anywhere, while giving pastors and other leaders unprecedented insight into how their people learn. Launching with more than 1,500 training videos for pastors, staff, volunteer leaders, and every-day church goers, Ministry Grid covers, or will cover, every topic a church needs to effectively train those who minister from the parking lot to the pulpit.
The entire vision of Ministry Grid is based on Ephesians 4:11-13:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
Ministry Grid does not supplant the growth of disciples; it complements that growth. Indeed, it may serve as a catalyst for it.
The President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Thom Rainer, said, “Ministry Grid was developed in conjunction with the leaders who will be using it. We assembled an effective training model we believe is applicable to any church. It utilizes three main components: skillful training, godly facilitators, and easy accessibility for users.” Vice-president of LifeWay’s Church Resources, Eric Geiger, also noted, “The Church wins when ministry is handed back to the people. I am excited about Ministry Grid and how it will help churches more intentionally invest in leaders.”
Ministry Grid’s Learning Management System enables your church to customize training to match the unique needs and goals of your people. Select built-in tracks, choose from Ministry Grid’s 1,500+ video sessions, or add videos to create your own customized training. With tracking and administrative tools, Ministry Grid allows leaders to assess an individual or group’s skill level, assign training content, and view progress. It is accessible from computers, tablets, and smartphones with a native app that allows offline training, so users can train anywhere, at any time.
Ministry Grid is for the entire church, with pricing based on your church’s average weekly attendance. Content is organized into four areas of development—pastoral, church staff, lay leader/volunteer, and personal development—with a wide range of topics videos averaging 15 minutes in length. Ministry Grid works with churches of any size and because you can upload your own content there’s no limit to how you can utilize the platform. Ministry Grid is also perfect for organizations and non-profits that are developing Christian leaders on matters relevant to their ministry.
Ministry Grid is unprecedented in terms of the quantity, quality, and range of training content available. Every aspect is customizable according to your church’s needs, including the ability to skin the site with your own colors, drop in your logo and church branding, and upload your own content. You may also choose to disable access to content not relevant to your assigned users. No other training platform comes close in its ability to perfectly fit your specific needs.
Yes. Ministry Grid features apps for iOS devices and Kindle Fire. The mobile app allows people to watch training content on the go. You can even download content to your device to watch when offline, and connect your mobile device to a project—perfect for churches that do not have wi-fi access readily available. The Ministry Grid app is a free download, but requires a Ministry Grid subscription to use.
The official launch is less than two weeks away, but you can still sign up for the Ministry Grid Pre-release here.Read More »
To the surprise of almost no one I was a Halloween baby and have endured “Oh, that explains it” for years.
It probably does explain a lot. All Hallow’s Eve, right? Day before All Saints Day? Is that not what you meant? I do not remind you of all saints?
Today I turn 50 and by all but the most generous of measures this life is more than half spent. Unless I reach 100 years of age, for every day I have lived on Earth I have less than one day left. This ratio will continue to build in a negative direction until my last breath.
It is not a scary thought, but it is a sobering one. I do not fear death, but its reality grows larger in my bifocals moment-by-moment.
Happy Birthday to me.
God gives us but a single take in this life; there really are no do-overs. We cannot rewind time even for a millisecond to right a wrong, get another at bat, rephrase a word spoken in haste, raise our children with patience instead of anger, or restart a marriage from the honeymoon. The old refrain “Only one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last” gains meaning with each moment.
Personal mortality first waved at me when I turned 40. I saw it and gave a polite nod, but from that point I stopped viewing the end of this life as a blip on the horizon. Death moved into the foreground and planted itself. Solidly.
As has been noted by astute observers there are a few certain things in life. Death. Taxes. Death. Notre Dame needing to be crushed in every sport. Death.
Scarcely a day passes now that this thought or one like it does not cross my mind: “This day is gone. One more down. One fewer left.” Passing life by the workweek is a boorish existence even if life did end at the grave. For those of us who are followers of Christ the rising and setting sun reminds us of the brevity, sanctity and purpose of our handful of years. Or it should.
The challenge for the young is to avoid an unrealistically enhanced longevity expectation. Despite medicine advancing as it has and increasing numbers of people living to be 100, children still die all the time. Teens die all the time. Young adults die all the time. No believer should, in this world of death and dying, presume a long life ahead. Few see 80; many never see seventy; too many never see twenty.
Our years on this globe are threescore and ten. If by reason of diet and exercise (or a heart and lung transplant) we reach eighty we count such a one blessed. Eighty years against eternity.
Little wonder we are encouraged to make the best use of the time.
So, I approach the remaining years of my life not with sadness, not with anxiety, not with frustration, certainly not with despair. Rather, I hope to embrace them fully and walk them faithfully. Just because my days are fewer does not mean than cannot be amazing and productive.
Facing down these closing chapters I wonder if the biggest enemy of a joyous finish is not regrets about the first half. I have many regrets (almost exclusively related to my own immaturity, unwise decisions, bad parenting, and the like). In fact if I choose to constantly attend to those regrets it is likely I would never again know joy. Borrowing from the Apostle Paul, it seems “forgetting those things that are behind” is a good strategy when growing old. If you regret a situation that can be repaired, then seek reconciliation. If things cannot be changed, then move forward and trust God, as He did with Joseph, to work good out of bad.
My regrets, however, are few. I was raised by loving parents in a home that emphasized God’s word. Much of my formative discipleship took place in a church that emphasized God’s word. I’ve been blessed to teach and preach God’s word hundreds and hundreds of times. My wife and children are blessings beyond which I could ever have imagined. I experience “exceedingly, abundantly above all I can ask or think” on a regular basis.
I want to finish strong not because of a misguided desire to be remembered fondly or eulogized meaningfully or quoted positively. I want to finish strong because God deserves the glory it could bring to Him.
For me, that is reason enough.Read More »